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Tales from the Treasure Trove, Volume
 
VI

TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume VI
A Jewels of the Quill Anthology
978-1-60313-754-6 (trade paperback);
978-1-60313-753-9 (electronic)
Available now from Whiskey Creek Press
Find out more: http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/JOTQanthologies3a.html

diamond Choices (Aquamarine Series, Book 3) {romantic suspense} by Dee Lloyd (Dame Aquamarine): In the midst of the laughter and dancing at the Jameson/Donatelli stag and doe party, life-changing choices are made. One choice could lead to lasting love, another to violent death...

Experience has taught the event manager at Aquamarine Lake Lodge, Elly Jameson, not to trust good-looking, charismatic cops. Police officer Ward O'Donnell has resisted his fascination with his buddy's younger sister since Elly was an exciting teenager who burned up the slalom courses ten years ago. When there's a murder at the Jameson/Donatelli party, Ward and Elly find themselves working together to solve the crime. But how will they deal with an attraction that verges on combustible?

Take us through your process of writing Choices.

Dee: My writing of Choices began and ended with Elly Jameson. From the moment she greeted Nita with an enthusiastic hug in the first scene of Return to Lake Aquamarine, I really liked her. With her little compact, busty figure, slightly upturned nose and fine blond hair that usually escaped her French braid, she wasn’t exactly beautiful. However, she exuded energy and good humor. In the back of my mind, I knew she would be the heroine in some future story.

I had a murder in mind that would take place on a golf course at night. As Elly was the Events Manager at the Lake Aquamarine Lodge, I decided that my murder would take place outside a party she was coordinating. It was only natural that Ward O’Donnell, the charismatic police officer with the amazing blue eyes who appeared briefly in Telephone Tag Winner, should be the man in charge of the homicide. Of course, as usual, I first had to work out the motives and method involved with the murder. Then I had to lead Elly and Ward through the investigation. Their long-time attraction to each other developed into a deeper emotion over the course of the story. Both had to overcome obstacles.

As I am primarily a novel writer, my biggest problem in writing any short story is figuring out which intriguing possibilities to eliminate. The plot must have twists and turns but not be too complicated to follow easily. Strange as it may seem, it takes me almost as long to write a short story as it does to do a full-length romantic suspense novel.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided against using your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Dee: I tried out a few titles that contained the words Lake Aquamarine, but none seemed just right. This is a story about the difficult choices the hero and heroine (and the villain, too) had to make. Choices seemed to be the right title.

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diamond The Topaz Guard {swashbuckling romance} by Carrie S. Masek (Dame Topaz): Set in Orleans, France, 1585, in an era when Catholic and Protestant vie for control of France, eighteen-year old Lisette Mercer is on the brink of her lifelong goal--acceptance into the Abbey of Paraclete and a life of monastic study—when a young nobleman, Charles de Verney crashes into her life. Charles is handsome and charming--and a member of the Topaz Guard, the same guard that murdered Lisette's parents during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre thirteen years earlier. Hidden in a chest, she watched her family die, and she is haunted by the memory of a blood-splattered, jewel-encrusted sword—golden jewels, like the topaz set in the base of each sword wielded by the Topaz Guard. Intrigued by her wit and intelligence, Charles courts Lisette, and she conquers her fear and distrust of guardsmen to return Charles’ love. On the eve of their betrothal, a demon from her past returns and threatens not only their happiness but also their lives.

Take us through your process of writing The Topaz Guard.

Carrie: My son, Leland, came up with the idea for The Topaz Guard during a road trip. I was wondering out loud what kind of story I should write for the upcoming Jewels of the Quill anthology, and he answered, "One with swashbuckling. You know, like The Three Musketeers." The notion intrigued me, since I have always been a huge fan of Dumas. The problem was, while I had written contemporary romance, fantasy, science fiction and even some horror, I had never written anything remotely historical. That didn't deter Leland, who spent the next several hours (and most of the Arizona desert) brainstorming story ideas with me. It was he who jeweled the villain's sword and who came up with the religious conflict that drives much of the story. It took a lot of research to make The Topaz Guard historically accurate, much more research than I have ever needed for my other stories, but the grin on Leland's face when he read the final draft made it well worth the effort. The Topaz Guard is one of his favorite stories and one of mine, too.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided to use your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Carrie: I enjoy the challenge of working a topaz (in one form or another) into all of my TALES stories. Sometimes the topaz is the actual jewel, like the ones decorating the sword hilt in The Topaz Guard, and other times I use the name "Topaz" for an important aspect of the story. In Petals of a Topaz Jewel in TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume IV, the "Topaz" is both a yellow rose and the clue to a serial killer's identity. In my story, Topaz and the Lucky Seven, in the upcoming TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE, Volume VII, "Topaz," is the name of a very special kitten. Having a topaz in all the stories gives them a certain unity despite their differences in length and genre, and gives me a starting off point when brainstorming new story ideas.

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diamond The Incomparable Miss Scarlet {Victorian romance} by Nancy Pirri (Dame Sapphire): In 1851 London, Scarlet Warden stumbles upon her brother-in-law making love to a woman who's not her sister. But when Scarlet reveals the truth to Emma, her sister wants to turn a blind eye to the entire affair because divorce simply isn't an option, since the laws of the land could leave her penniless, without custody of her children. Scarlet's sleuthing leads to several other female acquaintances begging her to spy on their husbands and she gains governess positions in various households in her quest to prove their unfaithfulness.

Thirty-year-old bachelor, Hugh Henry Hamilton, the Duke of Danescliffe, has heard the laments from male friends. Hugh stands behind the sanctity of marriage and believes these men deserve what they got. He has yet to find a wife for himself until he meets London's notorious snoop and knows she's the only one for him.

Take us through your process of writing The Incomparable Miss Scarlet.

Nancy: I’d just watched a very old Sherlock Holmes movie when the idea came to me to write about a woman sleuth—only one who doesn’t seek murderers but unfaithful husbands. I love the late Victorian period, 19th century England, and wondered what it would be like to depict a Victorian woman with modern-day ideals. I’ve been thinking of possibly writing a series of novels about my heroine from this tale, Scarlet Warden.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided against using your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Nancy: Just something new, I guess. No particular reason other than that our leader, Karen Wiesner, suggested I substitute "Scarlet" for "Sapphire" since I've already named at least one of my previous Jewels of the Quill anthology contribution heroine's Sapphire.

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diamond The Nonesuch Curse (North of Nonesuch Series, Book 8) {gothic historical romance} by Jane Toombs (Dame Turquoise): "My name is Falana, I am a fae, and Ruthven blood I curse this day..." For five generations, the wood witch's curse has killed all Ruthven males on their thirtieth birthday. When Trilla Pasanen falls in love with Rom Ruthven, she discovers that the only way to save him is to believe in the power she hasn't been able to accept as her own. If she fails, Rom will die at thirty just as every Ruthven male has since Falana pronounced her evil curse.

Take us through your process of writing The Nonesuch Curse.

Jane: I love curses that doom a main character in stories because this means if the hero/heroine can’t discover a way around the curse, one or both die. It’s up to the author to figure a logical way to have these characters end the curse if they wish to live. Since curses are supernatural, then the way to end them must also have supernatural elements. In my story, the witch that laid the curse on the Ruthven family also gave the way out, though cryptically. This means Trilla must find the supernatural talent she inherited from her father as well as listening to her Spirit Bear from her mother’s culture. In other words, she must embrace the heritage she fears. And the hero, cursed under the witch's spell, finds his love for Trilla is tested when he must accept his part in ending the curse when Trilla offers it to him. Only if Rom believes strongly enough in their love for each other will he be able to do this.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided against using your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Jane: Since I’m Dame Turquoise, before all my titles before TALES VI had “Turquoise” in them. But, since this story involved a curse, it was difficult to work that gem into an ancient curse that began in Scotland. The Turquoise Curse didn't sound right. Because most of my Jewels of the Quill anthology contributions take place in Nonesuch, that was the logical word to pick for my title. Not only is it an old word, but it is also a descriptive one, meaning there’s nothing else like whatever it describes. In my story, it refers to the curse being unique, but also means the story is mostly set in the village and county of Nonesuch, which is named after a once-thriving copper mine in the area.

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diamond The Amber Dragon (The Amber Chronicles, Book 3) {a love story} by Janet Lane Walters (Dame Amber): Enter the world of the amber orb and learn the fate of the first prince to face the witch's curse and be cursed to live out his existence inside the orb.

Inside the world of the orb, Stephen Riva emerges from the forest and walks until he finds a village. He has no money and few skills, but he has to eat. He takes a job in the kitchen of a village tavern, but this is not the life he has been trained for let alone the one he wants. He is a prince without a kingdom. Is there a place for him in this new world?

Princess Valia is beautiful but vain and selfish. She has refused every prince of the near and far kingdoms. They haven’t paid enough homage to her beauty. Her father is at the end of his patience and orders the court wizard to teach her a lesson. The wizard changes her into an amber-colored dragon--a fat, five-foot dragon. She must find a prince who will kiss her in order to turn back into her beautiful self. But how, when she has alienated every prince she knows?

She flees the palace and begins to wander. Stephen hears of the dragon and goes to save the people from it. When she learns her challenger is a prince who does not know her history, can she entice him to kiss her? If he does, will she learn her lesson?

Take us through your process of writing The Amber Dragon.

Janet: The process of writing for me begins with discovering who the characters are, where the action takes place, and the time period. Then I look at what the characters want and why they want it. A very short chapter synopsis is followed by a rough draft. This means getting the entire story down without stopping to fill in descriptions and the like. Then I do a plot draft, putting in all the twists and turns, a character draft, a setting draft and finally a language draft. Then it's proof read and it's done. I really can't think of any individual steps that varied from my norm while writing The Amber Dragon. All my writing is done this way.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided to use your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Janet: Using my jewel in these stories is a given since there were five princes who disappeared into the amber world. With The Amber Dragon, the first of the vanished princes had his story. There are four more stories to tell and perhaps a final one using the prince of the second story.

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diamond Jordana's Chair (Kaleidoscope Series, Book 4) {contemporary romance} by Karen Wiesner (Dame Amethyst): Kaleidoscope Office Building provides employment to nine hot, young singles--all about to make a love connection. Working 9 to 5 has never been so complicated...or so much fun!

Soulful-eyed heartbreaker Dex Everett has been intrigued by his neighbor since she moved into his building a year ago--though, or perhaps because--she's nothing like the made-up glamour girls he's used to dating. Jordana DeSoto barely speaks English, has worn the same two handmade outfits in all the time he's known her, and has never bothered with, nor needed, make-up. The few times he's helped her carry furniture up to her apartment, he's noticed that her living space is basically empty. No one he's ever known could be content with so little simply because she earned it on her own or display such joy over a new chair. Jordana captures Dex the way no other woman ever has. Is this ladies' man officially off the market?

Take us through your process of writing Jordana's Chair.

Karen: This was one of those stories that all but wrote itself. I knew the characters and what I wanted for them long before I started the series, so coming up with their story, their personalities and backgrounds, was simple, especially because the hero had already been introduced in previous books in the series. Through the writing, Jordana and Dex grew much more, happily, and that's the fantastic thing about starting with an outline before moving into the first draft--the story and characterizations are so layered and rich. I wrote the book in a week and I was extremely pleased with the outcome when it was done.

Starting with TALES VI and all subsequent TALES volumes, for the first time, we no longer required our contributing authors to use their dame gem in titles and story themes. You decided against using your dame gem in your story and title. Why?

Karen: I've contributed to every single Jewels of the Quill anthology to date, and, as you can imagine, this became overwhelming for me to put an amethyst into every story, not to mention every title. Originally, this story was titled The Amethyst Chair, but, when the group decided to stop requiring the use of our dame gems, I quickly changed the title to Jordana's Chair, which I think is just a more interesting title altogether.

READ AN EXCERPT!

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